The Golden Compass has just had its world première in London, with the two main stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in attendance. It at this point, with just over a week until it gets its official release, that the religious groups efforts to get the film banned or boycotted will go fully in to overdrive.
His Dark Materials, the trilogy of books of which The Golden Compass is the first to get the movie treatment, have already caused controversy over their supposed anti-catholic viewpoint, and with movies causing much more publicity than books (excepting maybe the Harry Potter series), the controversy has only risen.
New Line Cinema wisely (although unjustifiably in some fans opinions) chose to slightly alter the gearing of the films to include less mentions of the catholic church, and changing the themes discussed to more euphemistic terms used to describe all manner of different dogmatic organizations instead.
The biggest critics of the forthcoming film has been the U.S. based Catholic League, which has called Phillip Pullman “a noted English atheist” and insisted on their site “”It is his objective to bash Christianity and promote atheism. To kids.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, told Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm:
“They want to make money. They want to make sure there’s a second and third movie based on the books in the trilogy. This teaches atheism to kids. Phillip Pullman is very open about this. The movie is basically innocuous, but parents may want to say to their kids, ‘You know what? A great Christmas present would be to buy his ‘Dark Trilogy,’ the name of the three books.’ Now you’ve introduced your kids to atheism. I don’t think most parents want to do that.”
Why not? Surely kids should be taught a fair and balanced view of life, rather than being brainwashed to believe exactly what their parents just happen to have been brought up to believe.
As a massive fan of the books, and not a very big fan of organised religion, I can’t begin to state how disgusting I find these complaints.
Firstly, what are Christians frightened of? The books, and atheism in general, is just another viewpoint, and belief system, with people who firmly believe it, and others who refute it entirely. Surely that is no different than any religion?
I would have thought parents who are bringing their kids up to believe one thing, would be secure enough that they are right in what they are doing and believe, that they wouldn’t fear a book or movie being able to influence their children enough to follow another path.
Also, wouldn’t you want your kids to know about alternative viewpoints? It’s your right to bring your kids up however you want, but for their sake, and society’s, at least teach them other views exist, and don’t keep them in a bubble until they’re eighteen and have to find out the hard way.
My last point is that why have it banned? I personally do not watch any of the numerous Christian channels on cable television these days, because it’s not my thing. They pump out their very narrow beliefs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it has never crossed my mind to campaign to have them banned. I just switch off, and in this case, surely you could just skip going to the cinema this week?
I’ll be going to see The Golden Compass, and I’d urge anyone who enjoys it, to search out and buy the books also. They won’t change anyone’s mind on anything, but they teach you another way of looking at the world, and also open up a debate which we are all in sore need of having: how much power should the church and religions have over politics, and the world at large?